April showers mean May flowers…LA Blooms, to be exact. This spring, don’t miss the first-ever LA Bloom Festival, a nine-day celebration of transformation and Japanese arts and culture, hosted by the Japanese American Cultural Community Center in Little Tokyo. Co-curators – acclaimed international artist and modern zen master Hirokazu Kosaka and landscape architect and artist Calvin Abe – have transformed the iconic Noguchi plaza in Little Tokyo into a temporary ecoartspace, replete with one of the world’s largest zen gardens, a colorful metaphorical rainbow (more on that later!), and exhibitions on contemporary and traditional ikebana. Add to that performances, workshops, and a three-time world champion of sumo wrestling and you have a veritable LA Bloom bouquet of activities. With so much programming packed into nine days, we thought we’d give you the how to’s and what’s whats.
Opening Night Performance: Mare Nubium – Friday, April 27th – 8pm
Mare Nubium is the abbreviated performance of the much-lauded kalpa, which was performed at the kick-off of Pacific Standard Time at the Getty. In Sanskrit, kalpa means eons, or a long period of time. It’s said that once every hundred years, an angel comes down from heavens and swipes the surface of a stone with her silk sleeves until the rock disappears. Hiro Kosaka creates a symbolic parallel between the kalpa and the inevitable passage of time that slowly transforms our lives and the memories that we hold onto. Performers include Butoh (Japanese dancer) master Oguri, who leads a small company of dancers. It’s deep, and beautiful, seriously. Buy tickets here now. Listen for an upcoming interview with Hiro by Lisa Napoli on All Things Considered.
de LaB Tour with Hiro and Little Tokyo Happy Hour – Wednesday, May 2nd – 6pm to 10 pm
If you miss the opening night performance, catch de LaB‘s special tour with Hiro next week to get an explanation of LA Bloom from the modern day zen master himself. End the evening with a much-deserved cocktail at Little Tokyo Happy Hour in the zen garden. RSVP here. Admission is free otherwise and the ecoartspace and exhibitions will be open to all.
Jazz Night with Mia Doi Todd and Motoko Honda – Thursday, May 3rd – 8pm
Jazz and Japanese culture collide harmoniously when gorgeous songstress Mia Doi Todd and experimental avant-garde jazz pianist Motoko Honda take the stage on the plaza. Buy tickets here now.
Sumo Workshop with Three-Time World Champion Byamba – Saturday, May 5th – 2pm
Even if you don’t have kids, this is something you won’t want to miss. World champ Byamba brings an often misunderstood Japanese cultural tradition to life for all as he demonstrates the basic sumo stretches and teaches a workshop for little ones. Basically, a heavyweight workshop for lightweights. Admission is free.
Few individuals have been able to reshape and redefine the urban landscape (or work a mean mustache) like the late, great John Chase. The legacy of this legendary writer and urban designer continues to live on in Los Angeles, his vibrant spirit dwelling in the colorful, lively public spaces he helped to develop.
Last year, de LaB partnered with KCRW’s Frances Anderton to celebrate John’s influence in West Hollywood. From Plummer Park to West Hollywood City Hall, friends and admirers took a city-wide tour on the talented designer’s May 21st birthday, remembering his efforts to create beautiful, functional, and successful urban spaces.
To celebrate John’s profound influence on West Hollywood and the design community at large, the LA Urban Forum and design east of la brea produced this one-of-a-kind walking map, including 31 WeHo destinations that John designed, protected, enabled, approved, admired or frequented, along with descriptions, stories and anecdotes written by John’s friends and collaborators. Designer Keith Scharwath created the map in an eye-popping trademark John hot pink hue. The commemorative map is now available for purchase online. One map is $5, and three maps are $10. Prices include shipping. If you’d like to buy four or more maps, please contact hello [at] designeastoflabrea [dot] org.
Own your own special little piece of an LA design legacy. Click HERE to get more information about purchasing a John Chase West Hollywood map.
Alissa Walker, Marissa Gluck, Erin Cullerton and I were interviewed earlier this week by KCRW’s Frances Anderton for the last Design and Architecture show of the year. As founders of de LaB, we were asked to give our top picks for great LA-Made design gifts. From books to garbage cans, DIY laser cutting to miniature air plant sculptures, our selections ran the gamut. Frances caught up with us at the de LaB Holiday Party hosted at LACMAfollowing a viewing of the current California Design 1935-1960 “Living in a Modern Way” exhibit and we all crammed into my car in the parking garage for the interview, but only after we grabbed a glass of wine at Stark Bar. All I can say is that it’s way easier to be on the back side of the mic than it is to be in front of it!
If you missed it, catch it again here. Click to listen or just check out the links to all the amazing places and people mentioned on the show.
I still can’t believe we were on the same show as Jonathan Adler. What an honor and such a great way to end an amazing year. Hats off to all the creative people that make our LA design community so vibrant and always surprising.